When I think GIS mapping, I think ESRI. While there are other companies out there, ESRI pretty much dominates the government market when it comes to computer based maps. I was able to have a conversation with one of their staff today at their booth at the Denver UASI Conference. Here are snippets of what I learned from Paul Christin:
* ESRI is moving to a "one map" look. The idea being to have the maps and the navigation tools all look the same across their platforms to enhance the user's interface. This would be for desktop, enterprise and mobile.
* More applications are coming all the time. He showed me a nifty free one that searches for Twitter-Tweets in a specific geographical area. That would be a great situational tool you could use now when there is an incident.
* He sees 4G providing a little better speed, but the real advantage is multi-tasking on your smart phone/mobile device. You will be able to be on the phone talking, looking at a map, manipulating the data and sending the map to others all at the same time. Nifty!
* I asked which states are heavy into computer/GIS mapping and using the tool in their EOCs and for planning. Answer: Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Texas Public Safety.
* ARC GIS10 will give you your map data over time. So imagine you have basically screen shots of what you knew and when geographically displayed and retrievable. This will be a great documentation tool for after the event when people question the decisions that were made. The map will give you that situation at the time and provide the justification for what you did. A wonderful tool.
I'm convinced that just as in security the future is all about technology, so too in emergency management and homeland security we will see our major advances in the near term come from the integration of technology into what we are doing.
Remember, there is no better display in your EOC than that of an Operational Map generated by computer! I think we are finally getting to the point where we will be able to make the tool "sing and dance."